Archive for Marketing trivia

It’s not JUST a business card!

rw card frontIn 2010 I created my current business card.

It’s worked well, if you ignore the folks complaining about the tiny tag line being unreadable.

And half the message on the reverse side is obsolete. Meaning I couldn’t just order another 1,000 cards and be done with it.

But nobody really cares about business cards, right?

Actually…they do.

Yes, even in this digital age the business card is important; at least for anyone serious about personal networking.rw card back

Because when you’re working the room at a conference, meeting, or chamber event you need to move fast to befriend 300 people in two hours.

Realistically, you won’t find them examining your LinkedIn profile during your conversation.

However, provide a business card explaining what you do and how to find you and you may bond afterwards.

If I can capture their attention, they’ll want to connect on social media where they’ll read my columns, review my website, and examine my portfolio.

I see this card as the first (sometimes only) impression lots of people get of me.

And I know that the alternative to having a business card touting my expertise and talents is writing my phone number on a cocktail napkin.

I’m pretty sure that doesn’t have QUITE the same impact.

In fairness to my designer, I’ve spent three weeks tweaking my new card.

He’s frustrated, wanting merely to finish the project, bill me for it, and move on to the next one.

But I’ve been struggling over logo position, font size, and messaging.

At last, after several versions I’m where I want to be and gave the final go-ahead to print.

PHEW!

My clients today care more about my comprehensive corporate communications and world-class marketing strategies than on my convenient west coast location.

The new card should reflect that.

And that tiny tag line needs to be enlarged, requiring the design to be adjusted accordingly.

It’s been an unpleasant process, but an important one.

The card I’m now finishing should last me another seven years, and my new websites now under construction will complement it.

Because just as my clients need to refresh their marketing materials every few years, my business needs to do the same.

Fortunately, I know JUST the guy to handle the whole thing!

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
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Get help with your branding at www.marketbuilding.com.

You are what you wear

wine-dress-LUX-LD3449-aAt 15 mom convinced me you can’t get into trouble dressing conservatively.

She also said I should wear clean underwear in case I’m in an accident. I now know if I’m in an accident my underwear won’t be clean for very long.

But I digress. It’s prom night at Old Poway Park.

Everyone’s dolled up, taking pictures and awaiting the big moment.

One attractive girl whose dress is cut down to Venezuela catches attention while cavorting with her friends.

Her primary competition’s got a gown slit up to her navel.

I shake my head, wondering where were girls like this when I was in high school.

SIGH!

Assuming their goal’s to titillate their dates, these young exhibitionists are achieving their objective. Obviously, fancy parties require exciting clothes.

Other environments demand more sober clothing to achieve success. Miss Cleavage obviously wouldn’t wear that gown for a job interview.

A recent consulting gig found me surrounded by coworkers in jeans. I blended in on a high level with jeans, jacket and tie.

People noticed, calling me the classiest person in the organization.

Other clients won’t talk to me seriously unless I’m suited up.

My ideas are obviously the same without the suit, but that’s their culture. I live by their guidelines to buy myself a seat at the table.

Clothing sends a clear message who you are. Jeans at a job interview says “I’m not serious,” while jacket and tie at a rock concert screams “DORK!”

Reading the room and your place in it is critical for marketing yourself properly.

Speaking at a conference? Wear a jacket and tie. The audience shows up wearing jeans? Remove the tie.

My point is simple: Despite changing norms in many workplaces, most people still judge you by your wardrobe. Therefore, it’s key to pay attention to the message you’re sending.

Still, regardless of the packaging you can continue standing out of the crowd. Suits can be dressed up with a colorful tie or kerchief.

Hawaiian Shirt Day at work is an invitation to wear something bold.

With prom night past these kids have an opportunity to market themselves to new audiences at college and beyond. Their choice of fashion could easily make the difference to their personal and professional futures.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Dress your marketing for success at www.marketbuilding.com

The Best Sneetch on the Beach?

18582547_1537480859609087_60390326429017806_nLast night at Alesmith Brewery my friend Dave noticed all the pretty girls. I couldn’t get past them all having tattoos.

As I don’t sport ink, I admit my ignorance to the fascination with this form of self-expression.

It’s a throwback to my youth, when my father instilled in me three things to never do: sleep with a hooker, spend a night in jail, or get a tattoo.

So I basically just don’t get it.

Dave tried helping me out; “Military, truck drivers, and gang members have all traditionally worn body art. It goes with the territory.”

Which is all well and good. But the 58-year old accountant rebelling against a lifetime of middle class existence by imprinting a red scorpion on her neck may need therapy more than ink and needle.

That 25-year old tattooing her boyfriend’s name onto her hand fits in with her crowd but forgets he’s probably gone next year.

And will anyone really take you for a badass when you’re 90 and still sporting that grinning skull?

Next I re-read my Dr. Seuss.

In The Sneetches, Seuss spoke of the superiority complex of those with stars on their bellies. As everyone got them to feel special, eventually nobody was special. The tattoo artist won.

Regular readers know I’m all about finding ways to stand out of the crowd. Yet if the entire crowd expresses their individuality together, I go with Seuss’ observation “The best kind of Sneetches are Sneetches without!”

My bride says it’s a matter of self-identification. Does that translate to marketing yourself?

If so, before you make that commitment, ask if you’re more likely to stand out without a tattoo?

Because that body art makes a statement about you that might negatively impact your ability to market yourself and/or your company.

After all, if your customers are turned off by tats, you might not get or keep the job.

During my career I’ve observed the most successful sales people have certain things in common, including dressing well, neutral accents, good grooming, lack of facial hair, and no tattoos.

Despite this, you may feel a tattoo’s key to your identity. If you must pursue it, place it somewhere unobtrusive. You and your close friends can appreciate what’s nobody else’s business.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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Add color to your marketing at www.askmrmarketing.com

Her Quick Thinking Saved My Life!

For years I’ve proclaimed to everyone how wonderful my bride is.two hearts as one

She’s saved me from loneliness, destitution, hunger, the East Coast and memories of countless failed relationships.

Last week she saved me again, with the Heimlich maneuver.

You see, after a pretzel left a dusty trail in my throat, I drank a club soda.

Whoom! The bubbles, reacting with the dust, created a thousand tiny sponges simultaneously expanding in my throat.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even choke.

In my mind I was already writing the police report concluding with “Stupid way to die.”

My bride had other plans, acting fast and saving my life.

During his lifetime, Dr. Henry Heimlich’s signature move saved 100,000+ lives. Mine’s now on the list.

Today I joke about laughing at death, but I’ll admit to being scared.

My bride asked me not to tell this story, but this is unquestionably a teachable moment.

Choking can happen to anyone, anytime.

Cliché? Maybe, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

So how does this tie into a marketing column? Obviously, I can’t just celebrate my life partner’s accomplishment and be done with it.

So consider this scenario: You’re having lunch at work tomorrow and a piece of sandwich catches in your throat. Older readers will remember this is how Mama Cass Elliott purportedly died in 1974 (not true!)

A co-worker with whom you’ve clashed sees you turning blue, your hand at your throat. He steps behind you, performs the Heimlich maneuver, and saves your life.

Your associate wasn’t looking for applause, but to you he is now a hero. Your opinion of this person has gone up several notches. Past disagreements suddenly seem trivial.

The message sent and received was that common decency overcame company politics.

Today we’re swimming through a sea of disagreements, with former friends consistently at each other’s throats over every twitch and tweet coming from the nation’s capital.

And perhaps I’m fantasizing to believe that we’re all decent enough to save the next guy, even if we radically oppose whatever he stands for.

But since at the moment I’m still believing in miracles, give me this one. And if you don’t know how to do the Heimlich maneuver, learn.

Because you could easily save a life tomorrow.

With that said, I wish you a week of stress-free marketing.

Reach the newly optimistic Mr. Marketing at www.askmrmarketing.com.

You’re calling it WHAT?

Driving through CoPerformanceUtilitySupply_Underground-Utilities-Home1rona I spotted a roadside sign reading PUS.

Having a twisted sense of humor, I wondered who would want to buy the stuff.

The sign was attached to a company named Performance Utility Supply. They sell hardware to the power and lighting industries.

I’m guessing most of their customers are “manly” men in construction. Their website photo of an unshaven guy wearing his PUS gear reinforces my suspicion.

The company also has a sexually suggestive line emblazoned on their trucks. And if this strategy works for them, who am I to argue?

Still, one has to wonder about the long-term wisdom of this type of gender-based marketing. While today women only make up 9% of construction workers, change is inevitable.

Over the past 50 years, women have achieved parity in one industry after another. In the current political climate, their numbers can only be expected to increase.

All suggesting the eventuality of more women buyers in one of the last bastions of male domination: construction.

It’s no surprise that women oftentimes view the world differently than men. Historically, professional women are less likely to engage in sophomoric hijinks than their male counterparts.

Which all points to women buyers in construction and related trades who will want to be taken seriously and/or be offended by the PUS name and marketing strategy.

Naming a business can be tricky, easily going down the wrong path. Things to consider when you’re naming your business include:

  • How will your audience receive it?
  • How will your acronym read?
  • Is the name exciting, or a compromise reached to satisfy a committee?
  • Does the name say something, or is it just feeding someone’s ego?
  • Are you just mashing words together in hopes of being clever?
  • Do you stand out of the crowd in a good way?
  • Are you merely naming the business after the town you live in?
  • Are you using clichés or obscure words?
  • Is your spelling funky?
  • Can you get a domain to match your company name?
  • Are you budgeting enough to brand your name to customers?
  • Can you admit if the company name is just wrong?

Company names should bring value to the table. The last thing you want is for customers to be offended when they see your business’ name.

Delivering Savings Until Closing Time Today

A man walks into the post office…WONDERUSPS2

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it?

But there I was waiting to buy postage and I discovered a coupon jointly issued by Hallmark and the U.S. Postal Service.

In truth I shouldn’t have been surprised. For the past few years the Postal Service has been getting increasingly commercial in an effort to overcome an annual $5 billion deficit. And because the USPS is a quasi-governmental agency receiving zero tax dollars, that money obviously has to come from someplace.

So, a few years back they started selling ancillary items like packing supplies and greeting cards.

Then they struck deals to feature animated characters on postage stamps, including Bambi, Big Bird and Daffy Duck.

Today, stamps featuring Wonder Woman can be affixed to Snoopy greeting cards, both purchased at the postal counter.

The tie-in between postage stamps and Hallmark greeting cards is a logical one.

Post offices have a built-in customer traffic flow. Most cards get mailed and need stamps.

What better place to tie the stamps, card, and customers together than there?

Furthermore, free email graphics have been the source of headaches for Hallmark executives for a long time.

If they can sell more cards and pay the USPS a sales commission, everyone wins, right?

Their plan is obvious;

  • Customer chooses a card from the multiple displays in the postal store lobby;
  • Coupon offers $1 off 3 cards if purchased before Feb. 17, 2017 (That’s TODAY, in case you hadn’t noticed!);
  • Customer buys two additional cards and stamps for mailing them

The promotion’s demise date screams “Valentine’s Day,” though any cards sold there qualify for the discount.

Now let’s examine your business. Odds are good there’s a potential partner for you, regardless of what you sell.

Car dealerships can join forces with area gas stations. Bakeries can work with exercise studios, which, in turn, can partner with beverage companies.

The USPS isn’t collecting buyers’ contact information, but there’s no reason you can’t. A list of buyers is incredibly valuable, since:

  • They like what you and your partner sell
  • You have an established relationship
  • They’re likely to buy from you again

Partnerships must be carefully thought out and planned, but can be very successful if done right. Learn from the USPS and develop one today.

How much would you charge?

breakfast sandwichI just flew in from Sacramento, and BOY are my arms tired!

Sorry…I’ve always wanted to say that.

At the airport my bride purchased a “substandard” bagel and “okay” coffee for $6.04. The same counter was selling breakfast sandwiches for $11.

Realizing I’m in the wrong business, I pondered how anyone has the nerve to charge such exorbitant prices.

First thought: Greed. Airport dining options are limited and most vacationers, feeling expansive, don’t bring their own food.

Plus with millions of guaranteed customers, a “Take it or leave it” attitude is almost understandable.

Especially since airport meals typically fade from memory before the next suitcase is packed.

Then I considered my neighborhood’s gas stations. One at the freeway entrance consistently charges 80 cents more per gallon than the place across the street lacking ramp access.

Given the minor differences from one brand of gasoline to another, the price differential must be caused by the convenience factor; the station’s location.

Economics 101 dictates something is worth only what customers believe its value to be.

A bottle of cold water selling for 25 cents at Costco is worth $3 when sold on a hot day inside a football stadium. Customers willingly throw money for the same item due to its increased perceived value.

Meaning we’re witnessing the law of supply and demand in action. The gas stations, airport restaurants, and water vendors are all charging as much as their particular customers are willing to pay.

You too should be looking to bestow some form of additional perceived value on your business. Like the airport, gas station, and football stadium, you may have location as an advantage.

Carrying hard-to-find products, providing amazing service, or making something of significantly higher quality than the competition also helps.

Or just making the experience more pleasant than the competition does might make the difference.

Greeting customers with a cheery “Hello friends!” and playing classical background music for those enjoying a morning cup of coffee, for example.

Of course, the answer to business success changes based on industry, geography, customer demographics, and your definition of success.

But if you can find that one thing that makes both you and your customers happy, you may suddenly find you’ve become quite popular.